Backyard BBQs are a summertime staple, but nobody says you have to keep foods classic. Sure, who doesn’t enjoy their all-time favorites—BBQ chicken, ribs, and all the fixin’s. Whether cooks want to impress, celebrate, or dress up their BBQ, no one needs a reason to think outside the box. Recreate a few dishes or the entire meal.
Rethink the Chicken or Pork
BBQ chicken has been a staple since the dawn of all things BBQ. Most people enjoy it, even the picky ones. The problem is in the sauce. Some like it kickin’, others want sweet, and there is always one person out there who wants mustard. Trying to appease that many palates means the host ends up with 10 bottles of open sauce, unhappy guests, or a pile of boring chicken.
Why not try grill-smoking your meat instead? No fancy smoker needed. Planks and chips help home chefs achieve new and different flavors. It’s such a simple process for a huge flavor impact and requires zero skill. Cooking on maple wood adds a smoky sweetness to your chicken. Serve as is or with a side of a homemade complementing sauce or chutney. If maple doesn’t fit, feel free to try other popular woods like pecan, mesquite, cherry, or hickory.
Corn is another staple. Nothing like fresh, in season corn, perfectly cook to a crisp doneness and smothered in butter. For a special occasion, cooks might be looking for a way to jazz up the flavor without much fuss. Grilling corn-on-cob is easy, and the method introduces a layer of flavor ranging from smokiness to hints of chocolate. Smoked corn is another way to alter the classic side dish.
Cooks can go a step further. While grilling, brush the corn with homemade herbed butters or oils and turn occasionally for even char marks. This technique resembles street corn found in many places, minus the addition of extra herbs and mayonnaise. Another option is to make corn-on-cob the traditional way but serve the homemade butters and oils tableside.
Say Goodbye to Pie
Show off BBQ skills in style with a fancy tasting, but easier than pie, combination of grilled brioche and fresh in-season fruit or berries. Canned peaches work in a pinch too, and pound cake also tastes divine when grill-toasted. Spread butter on thick slices of brioche bread and grill for 10 seconds on each side. Add a dollop of whipped cream, a scoop of ice cream, or both. For an added treat, cooks can slightly smoke or grill fresh fruit until warm and tender too.
Backyard BBQ doesn’t need to fit classic standards. Foodies and budding grill masters can show off their skills, try out techniques, or new flavors on guests. Rethinking an old classic or two while still serving other traditional foods is another great idea to change up the summer BBQ and give it a fresh feel. A cookout really only needs three major components: good company, good food, and a relaxing atmosphere.